Outcomes and achievements related to mine action work in Lebanon
Lebanon Mine Action Center in collaboration with the European Union and the United Nations Development Program held a meeting today concerning “the international support group for Lebanon”. Ambassadors and representatives from donors’ countries attended the meeting as well as national authorities, non- governmental organizations and National Mine Risk Education Steering Committee working on combatting land mines and cluster munitions and other forms of UXO in order to help the mine victim survivors.
United Nations Development Program Resident Representative, Mr. Robert Watkins, inaugurated the 3rd meeting of the International Support Group to the National Lebanese Program on removal of land mines for humanitarian goals. He declared that “Thousands of explosive remnants of war have been secured or cleared from school, roads or areas, tens of thousands of people have received mine risk education, and many have benefited from mine victim assistance. These achievements, in addition to the ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions by the Lebanese Government, have enabled Lebanon to steadily progress in its recovery journey towards a safer, more sustainable country, while delegations from many other countries have travelled here to Lebanon to also learn from this experience.” He also added that “The excellent cooperation between the LMAC, mine clearance organizations, and other key partners has yielded the impressive clearance of 70% of total contaminated areas in accordance with the 2016 set timeline for a free of cluster munitions Lebanon.”
Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, acknowledged in her speech “the tremendous efforts undertaken by Lebanon, the Lebanese authorities and the people living in Lebanon who are determined to make their country a safer place through concrete targeted action, through mine clearance, awareness raising and assistance to victims.” she added that “The activities of the Lebanese Mine Action Centre have led to very positive results and success stories in terms of Mine Action and clearance operations. Improvement of physical and livelihood security has been achieved in several villages and municipalities”. She ended her speech by stating that “The Mine Action program 2013-2015 is the largest mine action program ever implemented by the EU in Lebanon and we wish for it to bring at least the same level and quality of results as the previous one did, thanks to the dedication of all the stakeholders involved, from local communities to the Lebanon Mine Action Centre, from NGOs to advocacy groups.”
Brigadier General Imad Odeimi, Director of the Lebanon Mine Action Center, expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the donors, especially to the European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA). He declared that the purpose of this meeting “is not simply to expound on our practical and training experience, capacities and achievements but rather to shed light on the fruits of the assistance and support that you provided to this program and that we still need to pursue our work and achieve the humanitarian goals we aspire to”. He also thanked LMAC for its close and transparent work with each and every one towards our common objective, “for Lebanon to be free from the threat of mines.”
General Odeimi added: “With the support and clear directives of the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Jean Qahwaji, the national program has achieved great strides in humanitarian demining operations through a wide range of activities, starting with raising awareness on the dangers of mines. As for demining, approximately 70% of all land contaminated with various types of ordnances was cleared, marking an 8% increase from last year.”
He also observed that “it would be impossible to fulfill the commitment to eradicate mines and cluster munitions by 2016 pursuant to the latest national strategy without additional support compensating for the shortage in the number of teams as a result of the deficiency in funding produced by the response to emerging and more urgent humanitarian crises in neighboring countries (Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Zambia, on 10-14 September 2013)”
The United Nations Development Program remains committed to working closely with national authorities and non-governmental organizations to foster the legislative, social, and economic conditions that enable mine victim survivors to realize their rights as full, productive members of society. In this regard, we believe it is critically important that Lebanon ratifies the “Access and Rights of People with Disability” law in order to shift from a more charity based approach to one where persons with disabilities are accorded their full rights with dignity.